Photo: ThinkstockBy Amber Kallor
A debate recently broke out in O's fashion department--a few staffers strongly argued in favor of keeping breasts supported 24/7 to prevent sagging, while the rest of us said strapping our chests down at night just isn't worth the trouble (or discomfort). Which is when our creative director Adam Glassman stepped in, declared it a toss up and asked me to get to the bottom of this bra (or no bra) battle.
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I called in the experts, bra whisperer and founder of Intimacy boutiques, Susan Nethero, and Phil Haeck, MD, and president of The American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, to find out what's myth and what's fact when it comes to keeping the (ahem) girls perky.
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The average breast size has increased over the past ten years (DD and E are average cup sizes today), says Nethero. Many of her clients who have fuller busts or are pregnant (which causes breasts to swell) like the support of a bra at night, as well as smaller busted women who like a feeling of security. She recommends a bra with a soft cup, no underwire or metal clasps, and a shelf or cross-over construction. Be sure to get properly fitted, she adds, as improper cup depth can cause breast tissue to lay against the chest and trap sweat, resulting in rashes or chafing. One of Nethero's favorites: The Sleeptop by Marguerite McGee.
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As comfortable as it feels, however, wearing a bra to bed is not a medically proven way to fight gravity. "If women could prevent sagging by just wearing a bra for 24 hours a day I'd be out of business," says Haeck, "What keeps your breast in place are microscopic ligaments--think of them as tiny suspenders for your breasts." As you age, these ligaments thin and stretch out and unfortunately, he says, there isn't a scientific cure to keep these suspensory ligaments as strong when you are 50 as they were when you were 15.
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And thus ends the great O bra debate of 2011.
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